Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Sports Anime: Soap-Opera-Style (You're Watching Wednesday #21 - Re-Main)

Good morning. I'm Hannah -

(- And I'm Ivy.)

And -

 The feature where we talk about shows -

(- And films.)

--

"If joining means you're a regular, it's got that minor sport vibe." - Eijiri in episode two (English sub) on joining the club, and, apparently, summing up how I choose which sports anime to watch

So I've watched anime about volleyball, football, figure skating, rhythmic gymnastics, swimming, skateboarding, Japanese archery, and cheerleading... Maybe it's time for me to try and get through one on basketball? Or not. Re-Main is about water polo. 

Ostensibly, anyway. 

About 30% of the time, this show likes to pretend that it's about the shenanigans of a mostly green water polo team, and the rest of the time it's soul-crushing angst, amnesia drama, and soap-opera-level plot twists.

(It's glorious.)

It begins with Minato waking up with amnesia after over 200 days in a coma, which is easily the most dramatic sports anime premise I've come across (so points for that). Pre-amnesia Minato was a star water polo player in middle school. This is news to current Minato. After attempting to avoid the sport, the universe (and a good portion of the show's cast) conspire to drag him back into it and he becomes a member of the water polo team at a no-name school that is having to fight just to put together enough members to compete. Joining Minato in his quest to reclaim water polo glory are Jo, the excitable team captain; Eijiri, who's always ready to throw hands and looking for a sport where he can stand out; Eitaro, Minato's all-round questionable pre-amnesia underclassman; easy-going Inomato; quiet, insecure Yoshiharu (please be careful with episode six - it's my favourite episode, but it also comes with a serious trigger warning for discussion of and imagery related to suicide); and Amihama, a former competitive swimmer who is motivated entirely by a desire to defeat his older brother.

Re-Main's biggest strength is that, whilst it is completely unpredictable, it keeps the characters at its heart. With the sheer amount of plot, it doesn't have many episodes that focus directly on specific characters, but it still manages to give us an excellent grasp of the dynamics within the team. Jo and Eijiri get on because they have similar personalities - Eijiri comes into this sport with no prior experience and immediately challenges Jo for his position and Jo - far from being insulted - is delighted to finally have some competitive spirit in the clubroom. Inomato and Yoshiharu are both unathletic, quiet types and confide in each other on their bus journey home. Amihama and Eijiri clash because they're both opinionated, but they value different things. The show might not have time to set up complicated dynamics, but they're consistent and they work.

If I listed all of the reasons I love sports anime - starting from how I love that they're all about passion and determination and how these things are so GOOD for people and ending with how they're all about character growth and dynamics - we'd be here all day, but I will say that I am a sucker for the power of friendship. There are points in the second half of this show where it seems like the team are really trying to break a particularly independent, ball-hog of a teammate with the power of friendship and he just looks like a confused puppy because these people should be scared of him, obviously. Does it work? Questionable. It sure is entertaining though.

What's the last show you watched where the plot had to be seen to be believed?

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Thursday, 30 September 2021

September Wrap-up

 

This has been a very busy month - I've had something on every weekend and also a number of weekdays (I haven't even been in work a full week all month) - and now I've come down with an absolutely terrible cold. 

News from the Reading Front

Being able to instantly buy the next manga book at the click of a button is dangerous! I watched Yu Yu Hakusho and Hunter X Hunter back in uni, but I've finally gotten round to reading them. I've also been rewatching Hunter X Hunter (last time, I got as far as the start of the Chimera Ant arc) and, for some reason, it's only now hit me how similar Shaman King and Hunter X Hunter are early on.

  • A group of people are competing for a position
  • Protagonist makes their friends in the earliest round / rounds of said competition
  • Protagonist befriends another kid with a murderous family
  • Said kid returns home and gets chained up by said family, and the rest of the main characters go to rescue them

Like, I don't know how I missed this before. I was definitely first reading Shaman King around the same time as I was first watching Hunter X Hunter!

Anyway. Here's what I read this month...

News from the Net
  • Days Volume 26 by Tsuyoshi Yasuda drops on the 26th October (just after payday!) and it has Nitobe and Kurusu on the cover! [Source] 
  • The final Re-Main episode drops next Saturday which means it's going to be possible to binge-watch it! (Also that you should get a You're Watching Wednesday post from me next month!)
  • DC are FINALLY launching a Batgirls series about Cass and Steph, with Barbara acting as their mentor, in December! [Source] 

How was your September? Any plans for Halloween?

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Monday, 6 September 2021

London Book Haul

I don't generally write book hauls - I don't usually buy a lot of books in one go (although I do sometimes get a stack out of the library) - but I went to London for the first time since the before times this weekend and went around a few of the bookshops, so here we are.

Halloween is coming up - I've been planning my costume for literal months - so I was haunting the horror shelves and wanted to take them all home! Unfortunately, I really couldn't afford to.

The Furies by Katie Lowe

Women, witchcraft, and murder. This sounds right up my street.

The blurb is also giving me minor Mean Girls vibes, with a girl being inducted into a clique and having to decide what she's willing to do to stay popular. Except, you know, the clique is more of a coven.


Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo

My entire justification for buying this was "it's by Leigh Bardugo" and I think that's very valid of me.

But, seriously, secret university societies for the rich and powerful? Secret societies with occult magic?! Sign me up!

...Believe it or not, I have only just realised that these first two books share a theme. 

 

Meddling Kids by Edgar Cantero

I've just started this and I'm not sure what I think of the writing style so far ("girl-smile"?), but it's basically what happens when kid detectives like the Scooby Gang grow up.

Based on the writing, I am assuming that Andy is madly in love with Kerri. Otherwise I have questions about basically all of Andy's third person narration so far. She goes on about Kerri's hair for, like, half a page. Andy's narration also occasionally drops into describing her actions like she's in a screenplay... I'm waiting to see if this is unique to her perspective before I pass judgement. 

The Last Annihalation: Wiccan and Hulkling by Anthony Oliveira (writing) and Jan Bazaldua (art)

This is part of a crossover event that I have not read the rest of, but it's worth picking up for the flashbacks to how Wiccan and Hulkling first got together.

These two are both on my "I will pick up a comic just because this character is in it" list.

 

 

Have you bought any new books recently?

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

August Wrap-up

 
Life should always feel like you're at an open air cinema. I went to see In the Heights earlier in the month and there's something about watching a film outdoors in the ruins of an abbey that just feels magical. (It may also just be the complete lack of variety we've all experienced over the last two years, but - hey - I'll take my kicks where I can get them!)

Sorry that I haven't been very active on the blog this month (understatement) - I was really off for a good three weeks. I'm feeling a bit better now though, which is good because I have a VERY busy September coming up.

News from the Reading Front

So you might have seen that a reboot of the Shaman King anime has started dropping on Netflix, which inspired me to start re-reading the series. Then I seem to have gone on a complete nostalgia trip, because I started rewatching Yu Yu Hakusho, which then led to me starting to buy the manga. And, on top of that, a new Days volume dropped.

So it's been a great month for manga!

Here's what I read this month...

  • Haikyuu!! Volumes 34 and 35 by Haruichi Furudate 
  • Shaman King Volumes 1-9 by Hiroyuki Takei
  • Days Volume 25 by Tsuyoshi Yasuda
  • Yu Yu Hakusho Volumes 1-11 by Yoshiharu Togashi 

News from the Net

How was your August?

Wednesday, 4 August 2021

It All Comes Tumbling Down (You're Watching Wednesday #20 - Bakuten!!)

Good morning. I'm Hannah -

(- And I'm Ivy.)

And -

The feature where we talk about shows -

(- And films.)

Another Wednesday, another sports anime. Bakuten!! (or Backflip!!) is about the six members of the men's rhythmic gymnastics team at Ao High School as they attempt to reach the nationals. You may have seen rhythmic gymnastics during the Olympics (if you have not, please admire just one of the many displays of incredible grace, agility, and timing that can be found on the Olympics Youtube channel), but this was probably women's. I wasn't actually aware that men did it (or, at least, not at a competitive level) until I googled it when I was watching this. For anyone who's interested, there's a section on men's rhythmic gymnastics on the sport's wikipedia page

The characterisation isn't deep, but everyone is well-defined: Futaba is a determined newbie, still looking for a hobby where he fits; Shichigahama is the passionate, hot-blooded captain; Tsukidate is smart, placid, and really likes plants; Onagawa is wild, unpredictable, and likes to tease; and Watari likes to act tough, but has a soft centre and an unshakeable loyalty to his friends. There's also Misato, who's a refreshing departure from the typical closed-off, but immensely talented player who needs to learn teamwork. Whilst he is exceptionally talented and rather withdrawn, he slots into the team fairly easily, helping to teach Futaba basic moves and managing to navigate a conversation with Onagawa about the latter's insecurities before his own issues are resolved. The one time he does have an issue related to teamwork, it's to do with his history with the new move they're working on and not his actual teammates. His character development is quick, but it still feels satisfying. Their coach also has an interesting backstory, which I'm not going to spoil. Generally speaking, the characters who had episodes that focused on them had more depth and even some development, which is to be expected. With a team of six (eight, including the coach and the manager), they're limited with what they can do in twelve episodes.

One thing that really sets Bakuten apart (other than the sport it focuses on), is that it has a much chiller, domestic, slice-of-life vibe than your average sports anime. The six main characters live together in a dorm and each episode has at least one scene that takes place at the dorm. The two episode training camp arc spends a whole episode on the main characters and their rivals bonding through not sport, but hide and seek. Even the episode focusing on the dynamic between the two team aces takes place mostly inside the dorms instead of at the club. 

For a relatively light, comedic show, when it's given the chance to add a little angst, it piles it on with a shovel. You think it's all cute, funny shenanigans and then BOOM. The unexplained everything of episode five. BOOM. Misato's backstory. BOOM. The ending of episode ten. It hits you like a mugger in an alleyway every single time. 

  Recommend me a piece of fiction that gave you mood whiplash in the comments.